"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Sheep Among Wolves Vol. II: Christianity in Iran

Two hours. That's how long it will take for you to watch this life-changing movie about a Great Awakening occurring in Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has the the fastest growing Christian church in the world today. It is a rapidly-reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominately led by courageous women.  It will be the best two hours you've spent in a long time.  #Iran

42 comments:

RB Kuter said...

Thank you VERY much for pointing out this film, Wade. I was aware that God is moving in amazing ways in Persia but not aware that the fervor for the Gospel has grown to this extent.

While serving in Southeast Asia, an extraordinary thing occurred in one of the national churches we worked closely with. A Persian man came to that resort city, saw the cross displayed on the beachside street where the church was located and searched out the pastor. He told him that he wanted to be a Christian. The pastor called me because he, the pastor, could not speak English and this man could speak none of the national language of this Asian country.

So I met with the man and after hours of discussion he surrendered to Jesus and we baptized him. He returned to Persia and 6 months later returned with another Persian man who also accepted Christ and was baptized and they returned home. After that, with no explanation obvious other than it being the providence of God, one Persian after another showed up at this same church. After the first two men, none of those who followed were connected with those who had come earlier. We were not aware of this phenomenon occurring in any other church in that Asian country. We ended up seeing close to 40 Persian souls saved!

One of the men who came said during the lessons we were teaching regarding the price required to follow Jesus, "I would give my life to follow Jesus." He repeated that to emphasize his sincerity. He returned to Persia after being baptized. A number of Christians were arrested in the area where he lived and he was never seen again. His family searched for him and checked the government lists of those who had been arrested but his name was never posted.

Surely God favors the Persian people. Perhaps due to King Cyrus befriending the Jewish people following his overpowering Babylon?

Wade Burleson said...

RB Kuter,

Wonderful comment. Thanks for the information - and I agree about Persians and God’s favor throughout history!

RB Kuter said...

Since returning to the US we have met some Persian neighbors and seekers with which to interact. I will pray about sharing this video with them as well as some of our other mission-minded friends.

RB Kuter said...

Wade, I have only now gone through the first hour of this VDO. AMAZING! I am taking notes to use in a couple of "discipleship" classes that I lead.

If I learned anything when serving as a missionary it was that you cannot replicate a method that God is using in one place, under those circumstances, and "cookie-cutter" it to apply in all other situations. (IMB tried doing that with the house church movement method that had worked so well in Cambodia, thinking they could simply force it into all situations around the globe. Didn't work.) So I realize it would fail to try to instigate and "Iranian" church movement explosion by mimicking the method God is using there here in the US.

BUT there are so many revolutionary aspects of this church explosion miracle occurring in Iran that we really need to consider injecting into the way we do "church" and see those to be engaged with the Gospel. I hope to adapt it into my personal service to Christ and life. It is so "Christ-driven" and pure. The approach to "discipling unbelievers" prior to their becoming followers (i.e., "the 70" Jesus sent out)/ "new believers seen as having potential as leaders next year"/"55% members and leaders being women yet women's response to rape and sexual assault being with "grace" instead of "bitterness"/not disqualifying followers due to their unattractive behavior (i.e., Samson). WOW!

I believe all churches could use this film as an instrument to use to make adjustments to the bumbling ways we have of doing "church" in the west, although I recognize that it will not be fully replicated until we are in the persecuted church environment they are in; which, as is so aptly pointed out, is imminent and just around the corner.

Thank you again for bringing this to light. Looking forward to hour 2 and more notes being taken.

Rex Ray said...

RB Ruter,

I’m not sure what you meant when you said, “…not disqualifying followers due to their unattractive behavior (i.e., Samson).

One of my heroes of the Bible is Samson. Many preachers when they want a ‘whipping post’ use Samson as an example.

Samson’s life is told by an angel: “…For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.” (Judges 13:7 NLT)

The key to his life is Judges 13:25 “And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…” and Judges 14:3-4 “…His father and mother objected…Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?...His father and mother DIDN’T REALIZE THE LORD WAS AT WORK IN THIS, CREATING AN OPPORTUNITY TO WORK AGAINST THE PHILISINES, WHO RULED OVER ISRAEL AT THIS TIME."

(Judges 16:27-30 Living) “…the temple was completely filled with people. The five Philistine leaders were there as well as three thousand people in the BALCONIES who were watching Samson and making fun of him…“Let me die with the Philistines,” he prayed…the temple crashed down…So those he killed…were more than those he had killed during his entire lifetime.”

I believe God wanted to show his enemies what one man with God’s strength could do.


RB, you’re so right when you said, “IMB tried doing that with the house church movement method that had worked so well in Cambodia, thinking they could simply force it into all situations around the globe. Didn't work.”

At one time, three missionary couples were in our house with problems. Most thought one couple was on furlough but they had been sent back until they learned to obey orders to plant a church. The husband got off the hook by learning sign-language and joined his wife in that ministry.

Another man, Dennis Folds, (played second base on our church softball team) had been told he could be the interim pastor at Tokyo Baptist Church, but couldn’t be their pastor since the church had chosen the English language for communication. They decided they would listen to God rather than man and accepted the church’s call for him to be their pastor. Years later he told me the IMB decided not to bother him, and I got a team to remodel the church.

The IMB decided it’d be OK for my son and his wife to further their education.

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray, you would have to watch the video to get their point about not disqualifying someone due to their unattractive behavior. They did use Samonson as an example and I believe it was in the context of Samson being one rough and tumble dude. I mean, can you imagine Samson coming to sit by your bedside when you're dying and holding your hand and praying for you? He was a "wild west" type of hombre, running around with an ass jaw crushing people's skulls in! Their point was that in their country, when an addict comes to them, a prostitute, a suicidal person, they take them and pretty much say, "Let's go to work" and they use them and right away to go out and make disciples.

I was particularly impressed with the role that women are playing in this Kingdom explosion going on. 55% of the members AND leaders are women. We know that is one thing that must have really got Wade's attention, given his passion for opening ministry doors to women. But they have the right outlook and perspective of women being church leaders, in my estimation, at least. These women are humble. The person in that country describing them says some like, "They are quiet, gentle, spirits when in Kingdom work but when they are dealing with the devil and his oppressive domination over people, these women are fierce!"

That's the same situation that I witnessed when serving in Zambia and Thailand. That's why I was supportive of women in leadership roles and even as pastors in situations where the women had that kind of spirit. I never even heard of women's involvement being opposed other than from western missionaries; never the nationals.

Back to IMB, I will always be grateful for the honor and blessing of being able to serve with the Foreign/International Mission Board. Rex Ray, we Southern Baptists had absolutely the best, most efficient, most Word-centered mission organization in the world. The focus was always on winning souls when I was privileged to serve. As you mention and I made mention of, there were times when things were not done in the manner in which they would have been if I had been President (thank God I never had that position to deal with!), but my goodness, it was only the largest, most active Protestant mission organization in the world! And it was extremely innovative and creative and often operated "out of the box" in the sense of breaking out of "the way it has always been done" to search for even more effective ways to expand The Kingdom in the world.

I believe I may have some idea of some things at play in the situation with your missionary friend in Japan. The Japanese language is THE most difficult language in the world to learn, so I'm told. Bemba in Zambia was difficult for sure. Thai is REALLY tough and Chinese probably tougher, but Japanese? No thank you! So there were a number of missionaries assigned to serve in Japan and they just could not grasp the language well enough to function in it.

But FMB/IMB has always resisted the temptation for missionaries to serve as pastors of national churches and for that, I applaud them. We did have some who served on the field as pastors of international churches but even that was frowned upon and most often unacceptable. We have some friends who left IMB to serve in English speaking or international churches in the country where they had originally gone as IMB missionaries and the local church supported them. That's as it should be, in my opinion.

The Board was always careful not to compete with the national church and if the Board began to place its missionaries into positions that could be filled by nationals it was a concern.

I don't know the specific circumstances of the situation in which you referred, so I really can't speak to it. Just thinking and reflecting.

Wade Burleson said...

Excellent comment, RB.

Thank you.

Rex Ray said...

RB Ruter,

You mentioned that “Southern Baptist…was only the largest, most active Protestant mission organization.”

My Dad taught us when asked if we were Protestant or Catholic, we were to say “Neither, we’re Baptist”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trail_of_Blood#/media/File:The_Trail_of_Blood.jpg

JM Carroll’s Chart traces Baptist with many names from Jesus saying “…I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matthew 16:18 NLT) to year 2000.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
The Trail of Blood theory appears to be more wishful thinking than fact. See: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptist_successionism.

Also see: http://anabaptismexposed.blogspot.com/2007/06/anabaptists.html?m=1

The second article might go too far in the other direction, but it also has some good information.

Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox make similar claims for tracing back to the apostles. The actual history of Christianity is complicated and messy.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

I could not find anything with your first link. Then second link recorded a guy that talked forever. (I believed the comments that belittled the guy’s belief.)

J. M. Carroll had one of the world’s largest libraries on church history. When he died, these books were given to SWBTS. At one time, it displayed a picture of Carroll and his chart.

His book which was a collection of his lectures, was written by J. W. Porter and was published after Carroll died.

http://ia800305.us.archive.org/35/items/TheTrailOfBlood/41344433-The-Trail-of-Blood.pdf

Trail of Blood: “Sum of the most significant events of the first five-century period:

1. Gradual change from democracy to a preacher-church government.
2. Change from Salvation by grace to Baptismal Salvation.
3. Change from “believers’ baptism” to “infant baptism.”
4. Hierarchy organized. Marriage of church and state.
5. Seat of empire changed to Constantinople.
6. Christians began to persecute Christians.
7. Infant baptism established by law and made compulsory.
8. “Dark Ages” begin 426 A.D.
9. Sword and torch rather that the gospel become the power of God (?) unto salvation.
10. All semblance of “Religious liberty” dies and is buried and remains buried for many centuries.
11. Loyal New Testament churches, by whatever name called, are hunted and hounded to the utmost limit of the new Catholic-temporal power. Remnants scattered over the world are finding uncertain hiding places in forest and mountains, valleys, dens, and caves of the earth.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I would very much like to believe in the truthfulness of the trail of blood, but I have read too much history to allow me to belive it. I have read the corresponding Eastern Orthodox version of how the apostolic trail runs through them. Roman Catholics have similarly persuasive arguments that it runs through them. I personally believe that finding true apostolic succession is about as fruitful as seeking the Holy Grail. But I do believe that all kinds of expressions of Christianity have had true believers who have passed down the essentials. The real question, I suppose, is what are the essentials? I suspect that doctrinal precision matters far less than how love God and others.

Wade Burleson said...

Ken F.

Profound comment.

Four thumbs up (out of four).

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

I know you didn’t read all the link because you haven’t had the time yet. Did you see the list of 77 books Carroll got his information? One of them was “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” written around 1500. My father told me I should read it, but it was many years before I did.

It told the history of many things and brought out how important James was. (The brother of Jesus.) He was chosen pastor of the Jerusalem church. His father must have raised him as a Nazarite because he never cut his hair and prayed daily in the Holy Place for the sins of the people.

The Pharisees told him, “We and all the people should obey thee…they have gone astray in believing Jesus is the Messiah. Call to them from the top of the Temple how wrong they are. On top of the Temple, James said with a loud voice, “Why ask me of Jesus? He sits on the Throne with God, and shall come again in the clouds of Glory!”

They threw him from the top of the Temple but he was not killed. A ‘substitute’ for the High Priest ordered him stone. The stoning stopped when they were asked how could they stone a man that was praying for them. But a man hit him in the head with a club and killed him.

There was such an outcry from the people, King Agrippa ordered the ‘substitute’ fired. Many believed the destruction of Jerusalem that soon followed, was because God was angry over James being killed. (written from memory of many years ago.)

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
The quest for true apostolic succession is a bit loke following various conspiracy theories: lots of interesting info but difficult to prove, plot twists and dead ends, and disputes over historical accuracy. What I find most strange about the trail of blood is the heretical groups it flows through. Even if the Donatists were not heretics, they had bishops and observed the sacraments (believing the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus), which is not at all Baptist. And the Paulicians were a gnostic cult, which is hardly baptist. If Baptists truly came out of the trail of blood, it means Baptists are deeply rooted in heresies and very un-Baptist practices. This seems highly unlikely to me, but not impossible.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F.

Back to the Trail of Blood.

“Christians that rejected the man-made doctrine of “Infant Baptism”, and demanded rebaptism were called “Ana-Baptists” in the third Century. They received this name before Catholics received theirs. Thus “Ana-Baptist” is the oldest denominational name in history.”

“During the time that 50 million of the hated Ana-Baptist were killed, along one European highway, thirty-mile distance, sharp stakes were set up every few feet with the head of an Ana-Baptist. Human imagination can hardly picture a scene so awful! And yet a thing perpetrated, according to reliable history, by people calling themselves devout followers of the meek and lowly Jesus Christ.”

“Many others that believed as Ana-Baptists bore other nicknames such as the Donatists, Paulicians, Albigenses, Ancient Waldenses, and others. Gradually these names were changed to Anabaptist. By the sixteenth century. “Ana” was dropped and they became known as Baptist.”

Rex Ray said...

Ken F.

Where did you get the idea that Baptists are rooted in heresies and un-Baptist practices? Don’t Baptist today agree with Ana-Baptists in NOT agreeing with these?

1.Gradual change from democracy to a preacher-church government.
2.Change from Salvation by grace to Baptismal Salvation.
3.Change from “believers baptism” to “infant baptism.”
4.Hierarchy organized. Marriage of church and state.
5.Seat of empire changed to Constantinople.
6.Christians began to persecute Christians.
7.Infant baptism established by law and made compulsory.
8.“Dark Ages” begin 426 A.D.
9.Sword and torch rather that the gospel become the power of God (?) unto salvation.

Ken F said...

"Where did you get the idea that Baptists are rooted in heresies and un-Baptist practices?"

Hi Rex,
I got it from the trail of blood chart. It shows the trail of blood going through heretical groups such as Donatists and Paulicians. I don't believe the chart because I don't believe that Baptist history went that route.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

What we “believe” should have some proof of WHY? Ana-Baptists were against the nine things my last comment listed. As a Baptists, are you for any of them? What do you have against “Paulicians”? (Sounds to me like they must have obeyed Paul’s teachings so much, they were named after him.)

Do you have anything against Carroll’s “Marks of the New Testament Church”?

1.It’s Head and Founder; Christ. He is the law-giver; the Church is only the executives, (Matthew 16:18; Colossians 1:18)
2.Its only rule of faith and practice; the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
3.Its name; “CHURCH”, “CHURCHES.” (Matthew 16:18; Revelations 22:16)
4.Its polity; CONGREGATIONAL; all members equal, (Matthew 20:24-28; 23:5-12)
5.Its members; only saved people. (Eph 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5)
6.Its ordinances; BELIEVERS’ BAPTISM, FOLLOWED by THE LORD’S SUPPER. (Matthew 28:19-20)
7.Its officers; PASTORS and DEACONS. (1 Timothy 3:1-16)
8.Its work; getting folks saved, baptizing them (with a baptism that meets all the requirements of God’s Word), teaching them (“to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Ken, it’s been said the greatest hatred in the world is ‘Religious hatred’. This would be proven by Carroll quoting these people:

1.Cardinal Hosius (Catholic, 1524), President of the Council of Treat:
“Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past twelve hundred years, they would swarm in greater number than all the Reformers.” (Hosius Letters, Apud Opera, pp. 112-113)
(The “twelve hundred years” were the years preceding the Reformation in which Rome persecuted Baptist with the cruelest persecution thinkable.)

2.Sir Isaac Newton:
“The Baptist are the only body of known Christians that have never symbolized with Rome.”

3.Mosheim (Lutheran):
“Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay secreted in almost all the countries of Europe persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of modern Dutch Baptist.”

4.Edinburg Cyclopedia (Presbyterian):
“It must already occurred to our readers that the Baptist are the same sect of Christians that were formerly described as Ana-Baptist. Indeed this seems to have been their leading principle from the time of Tertullian to the present time.”
Tertullian was born just fifty years after the death of the apostle John.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
Did you investigate what the Donatists believed. Contrary to Baptist belief in ordinances vice sacraments, they split off from Catholicism because they thought the Catholics did not take the sacraments seriously enough. They also held to the early creeds, which in not very Baptist. Tracing Baptist through the Donatists makes as much sense as tracing then through the Catholics.

The Paulicians appeared to deny the virgin birth of Jesus, rejected some books of the NT, rejected all of the OT, believed in the heresy known as adoptionism, and appeared to believe in a dualist version of a good god and a bad god. Tracing Baptists through Paulicians makes about as much sense as tracing then through Mormons.

The Waldensians were theologically orthodox, so much so that they and the reformers developed quite an affinity. They were certainly not persecuted by the reformers.

It's ok if you want to believe in the veracity of the trail of tears, but I have too much respect for Baptists to believe they have those roots.

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

Do you know the history of two brothers, J.M. Carroll and B.H. Carroll? The older brother, B.H. Carroll, founded SWBTS.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Milton_Carroll

“Carroll founded and led the Education Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas through its first ten years. He later served as secretary and statistician for the Convention. He was also involved with the regional Southern Baptist Convention (which became a national organization). He pastored churches in Anderson, Corpus Christi, Lampasas, Taylor, Waco, and San Antonio.

Active as an educator, Carroll helped found and was the first president of San Marcos Baptist Academy. He later served as the founding president of Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, paying off the university's debt with his own funds, followed by service as president of Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas.

In addition to education, Carroll held various other positions. He was the solicitor for the Texas Baptist and Herald and served as an agent for the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board in Texas.

Carroll worked as the financial agent for Baylor College (now the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor) and the endowment secretary for Baylor University.

His lasting legacy among Baptists is his booklet entitled The Trail of Blood (1931). This collection of five lectures describes Baptist history as a direct succession from apostolic times of early Christianity.

The Trail of Blood promoted the Landmarks’ view of Baptist origins, a movement that developed in the mid-nineteenth century among Tennessee and western congregations, and had lasting influences.”

Ken, this tells that J.M. Carroll at one time was president of Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. It was there, my brother and I made the ‘basketball traveling team’ our Freshman year before we transferred at mid-term to E.T.S.C. in Commerce, Texas. (30 miles from home as we were ‘homesick’.)

The “link” that shows Carroll’s chart, doesn’t have Donatists or Paulicians on it, so start believing. :)

Wade Burleson said...

I'm very familiar with the Carroll brothers!

And the Trail of Blood - I reject the premise of the small booklet, but have read it many times.

Ken F said...

"The “link” that shows Carroll’s chart, doesn’t have Donatists or Paulicians on it, so start believing. :)"

Hi Rex,
I did not look into the the Carrolls because their character has no impact on the truthfulness of the trail of blood theory. It is either true or false irrespective of who believes it. I have no doubt that they were not Donatist or Paulician. But I do doubt that they spent much time investigating their theory, because if they had done some fact checking they never would have proposed the theory. Had they investigated either movement they probably would make great efforts to avoid associating Baptists with those movements.

As to whether or not Baptists descend from Anabaptists, this appears to be a contested topic, so there is no slam-dunk case for it. Here is one interesting article: http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/religion-miscellaneous/difference-between-anabaptist-and-baptist/

If there is a trace to the Anabaptist movement, it seems it apply more to general Baptists and not to particular Baptists. For an example see: https://founders.org/2016/12/14/are-southern-baptists-cousins-to-the-anabaptists/

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

A long time ago, I mentioned “The Baptist Story The Trail of Blood” by Pastor A.A. Davis”. It was Copyright 1952. It has 240 pages. Davis wrote the last four pages. They fold out to make one page that has a Chart from A.D. 33 to A.D. 68, and labeled “The Church; THE ACTS”

Next to this Chart, is another Chart with the same number of pages that has “Courtesy of Dr. J.M. Carroll, THE TRAIL OF BLOOD”

Carroll shows in 900 A.D. that Catholics split into “Greek Catholic” and “Roman Catholic”. Davis has added the population Denominations in America as in 1935:
Greek Catholic = 998,000
Roman Catholic = 20,609,000
Lutheran = 4,580,000
Presbyterian = 2,681,000
Methodist = 9,067,000
Baptist = 10,191,000

Davis shows the growth of Baptist:
In the United States per population:

1790 = 1 in 57
1840 = 1 in 35
1891 = 1 in 21
1912 = 1 in 17
1920 = 1 in 13
1935 = 1 in 12

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

Your first link made no sense to me. I mean it said what Ana-Baptists are today. HUH? Ana-Baptist lost its name when it changed to Baptist. Whoever calls themselves Ana-Baptist today never had ancestors that were killed by Catholics. So many were murdered they thought Catholics was the ‘Anti-Christ’.

I lost confidence in the second link when the guy said, “I have deep and abiding respect for Paige Patterson and how God has used him as a vital means of recovering biblical fidelity in our denomination.”

Ken F said...

"Carroll shows in 900 A.D. that Catholics split into 'Greek Catholic' and 'Roman Catholic'."

Hi Rex,
He is off by a bit more than 150 years, which means he did not have good attention to detail. The split between Eastern and Western Christianity was actually very complicated, and had roots many centuries before the actual split. Here is an interesting article on it:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/East%E2%80%93West_Schism

As for the connection between Babtists and Anababtists, it is not nearly as clean as Carroll describes. If you read enough books and articles on the history you will not find a clear and unambiguous connection. Also, there are significant differences between early and later Anabaptists. The first bunch was violent and polygamous. The later Anabaptists were (and still are) strongly pacifist. The modern Anabaptists are primarily Mennonite ans Amish. I don't think most Baptists identify with these movements. And yes, the modern Anabaptists talk about the severe persecutions of their predecessors.

I posted the Founders article because it is a good example of the Reformed Baptist perspective. ARBCA is another group of Reformed Baptists.

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

I didn’t quote Carroll’s Chart exactly. Did you see his chart has a small number of 869? Where do you get the information, that Carroll was off more than 150 years?

I imagine the ‘separation’ didn’t happen in one day, but was over a period of time.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
The better question is from where did Carroll get his 869 date. I have not seen a history book or article that does not show 1054 as the year of the schism. There were many factors leading up to it, including the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 869-870, but that council did not result in the actual schism. As I wrote earlier, the split between East and West had roots that started centuries earlier, with a key contributor being linguistic - the West lost its familiarity with Greek, and the East lost its familiarity with Latin. This meant theologians on both sides quit reading materials from the other. There were also all kinds of political influences. The division was complicated, but what all sides seem to agree on was the fact that the split was formalized in 1054.

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

Yes, Google states the same year that you quoted. Too bad Carroll didn’t have Google. :)

He wrote: “The churches greatly multiplied and the disciples increased continuously. But some of the churches continued to go into error. The first of these changes from New Testament teachings embraced both policy and doctrine. Jerusalem church grew to be very large. Carroll list:

Acts 2:41 [“Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day; about 3,000 in all.”]
Acts 4:4 […the number of believers now totaled about 5,000 men, not counting women and children.”]
Acts 5:14 [“Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord; crowds of both men and women.”]

Carroll concludes the Jerusalem church had 25,000 to 50,000 members. James, pastor of Jerusalem church told Paul: “…You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all Follow the law of Moses very seriously.” (Acts 21:20 NLT)

I think I know the real reason Carroll’s writings were not believed by the ‘powers that be’.

He wrote: “These great churches necessarily had many elders. Some began to assume authority not given to them in the New Testament. (Wade would agree to that.) They began to claim authority over smaller churches. They began to lord it over God’s heritage (III John 9).

Here was the beginning of an error which has grown and multiplied into many other seriously hurtful errors. Here was the beginning of different orders in the ministry.”

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
Did Carroll give an explanation for how the Baptists ended up with exactly the same NT as all the erroneous churches, and how they arrived at re-incorporating the OT that had been purged by the Paulicians? Even though all of the NT books were in distribution very early, there was no widespread agreement on exactly which books should comprise the NT until the 4th century (the first complete listing we have that exactly matches our 27 books is a list by Athanasius from 367 AD). Since the NT was canonized by the apostate church, why do the Baptists use it? This is especially strange in light of the fact that the Paulicians are ancestors to the Baptists, and the Paulicians rejected all of the OT and some books of the NT. There would have to be some reason that they reverted back to using what all the erroneous churches were using. How did Carroll explain that?

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

You may think I’m chasing rabbits, but I want say why I believe ‘Authorities’ rejected Carroll’s work. He wrote that large churches such as the Jerusalem Church had many elders that assumed authority and began to lord it over smaller churches such as recorded in (3 John verse 9 Living): “…Diotrephes…leader of the Christians there, does not admit my authority over him and refuses to listen to me.”

Paul wrote, “…If anyone …who preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.” (Galatians 1:9 NLT)

(3 John 10 Living): “When I come [to Jerusalem Church?] I will tell you…what wicked things he is saying about me and what insulting language he is using. He not only refuses to welcome the missionary travelers himself, but tells others not to…”

Same verse NLT: “When I come, [to Jerusalem Church?] I will report…the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them.”

What did traveling teachers teach, and where did they come from?

“…those false teachers of yours…bring long letters of recommendations…” [from Jerusalem Church?] (2 Corinthians 3:1 Living)
“…some so called Christians there; false ones…wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations.” (Galatians 2:4 NLT)

Paul criticized false teachers: “…We do not tell them that they must obey every law of God or die…The old way, trying to be saved by keeping the Ten Commandments ends in death…(2 Corinthians 3:6 Living)

Who was the author of First, Second, and Third John written 90—95 AD that Carroll said was the ‘bad guy’? I believe the Bible tells us it was not John the apostle.

“…the people of the village did not welcome Jesus…When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” (Luke 9:53-54 NLT)

It’s important to note these brothers thought THEY could call fire from heaven. “James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”. (Mark 3:17 NLT)

“…Jesus said this to let him [Peter] know by what kind of death he would glorify God…Peter asked Jesus, “What about him [John] Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?...So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die…” (John 21:19-23 NLT)

“The mother of James and John…came to Jesus with her sons…Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?...Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup…” (Matthew 20:20-23 NLT)

The “bitter cup” was death. Usually, the bold die first, and James was the first. “…King Heriod…had apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword.” (Acts 12:2 NLT) Would his brother be very far behind?

I imagine John was so angry, he shook his fist in Heriod’s face and called fire from heaven. It could be the King told John, ‘You want fire to burn me up? I’ll show you what is hotter than fire.’

According to Tertullian, John was plunged into boiling oil in Rome. But tradition has John preaching a sermon while in the boiling oil.

Since Jesus told Peter how his death would glorify God, would he prevent the disciple he ‘loved’ from glorifying God also?

I mean since the three Johns were written around 90 to 95 AD, living to an old age was not drinking the cup (of death) that Jesus said John would drink.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
As appealing as your theory is, it does not seem to offer a good explanation as to why Irenaeus in the 2nd century affirmed that the fourth gospel was written by John the Apostle. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John. If John did not write that Gospel because he was already dead, than either Irenaeus was a liar or Polycarp was a liar.

I recently finished reading James R. Jr Payton's "Irenaeus on the Christian Faith: A Condensation of Against Heresies" (it condenses the five books into something much more readable). In "Against Heresies" Irenaeus makes the claim that all Christians everywhere believed and practiced the same. He also explained how John the Apostle wrote the fourth gospel. This claim was obviously made many decades before Constantine. It would be difficult to sustain claims like this if they were not true.

While newer theories are often interesting, the new theories need to prove that they offer better explanations than the older theories.

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

If I choose between the words of Irenaeus or Jesus, I’ll choose Jesus:

“Then the mother of James and John…came to Jesus with her sons… “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
…“Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering [Calvary] I am about to drink?”
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
“Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup…” (Matthew 20:20-23 NLT)

Ken, you probably agree that James drank the bitter cup that Jesus drank, but do you think Jesus was mistaken about John drinking it?

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
There is a big difference between believing what Jesus said and accurately understanding what he said. Christians have been arguing for centuries over interpretations, and even his disciples often misunderstood him even though they spent three intensive years with him.


If I understand you correctly, you do not believe that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus. Yet he very clearly stated "this IS my body/blood" and in John 6 he said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves." Notice that he made no statement about ii being a symbolic act. So for the first 1500 years of Christianity all Christians everywhere believed the bread and wine literally became the flesh and blood of Jesus. They based this belief on the words Jesus spoke. Ulrich Zwingli appears to be the first Christian leader to go on record saying it is purely symbolic (and Maryin Luther vigorously disagreed with him). So do we go with the words of Jesus or the words of Zwingli?

Early Christian history appears to universally affirm that the apostle John live to an old age and wrote the fourth gospel. It could be that all those Christians were wrong, but how did they manage to sell the lie? And that lie would have to have been widely believed by the 2nd century? I would be like someone stating today that Abraham Lincoln did not actually deliver the Gettysburg Address becauae he was already dead by then. How would one go about selling a lie like that?

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

We ALWAYS go with the words of Jesus, but we should NEVER take his words out of context.

“You quote Jesus saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.”

John 6:53 NLT states: “…I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.”

Ken, I think you know to prevent taking Scripture out of context, previous verses should be known and following verses should be known.

PREVIOUS VERSES
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:32-35 NLT)

FOLLOWING VERSE
“For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40 NLT)

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

Did Jesus really mean? “And if your hand…caused you to sin, cut it off…” (Matthew 5:30 NLT)

I know the son of a man that took a skill-saw and cut off his right hand, thinking the Lord would bless him. But being a carpenter, he lost his job, and became bitter.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I was trying to make the point that for two thpusand years people have been misunderstanding Jesus in various ways, which includes well-meaning Christians. And you bring up a good point about the impact of taking all of his words literally. This is why I see no reason to conclude that, based on the literal words of Jesus in that one passage, John could not have lived to a very old age.

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

Do you believe His words were literally for James?

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
Happy Thanksgiving.

It all depends on what Jesus meant when he said that. Romans 6 says all believers have been baptized into his seat. Does that shed light on the meaning of what Jesus said to James and John? Also, according to church tradition, John was exiled because he could not be killed - he survived being boiled in a pot of hot oil.

Rex Ray said...

Ken,

Happy Thanksgiving back at you. :)

I wish when you quote Scripture, you’d give verse and translation, because I read Romans 6 in the Living and the NLT and couldn’t find, “All believers have been baptized into his seat.” (I don’t know what that means or what it has to do with the subject we’re discussing.

I’m glad you believe that history records John was boiled in oil, but only church tradition says he didn’t die.

John wrote: “Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord? What sort of death will he die?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.” So, the rumor spread among the brotherhood that disciple wouldn’t die! But that isn’t what Jesus said at all! He only said, “If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you?” I am that disciple! I saw these events and have recorded them here. And we all know that my account of these things is accurate.” (John 21:21-24 Living)

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I have not yet found a way to turn off autocorrect on my phone. Seat should have been death. The verse is Romans 6:3. It appears that all believers are baptized into Jesus' death, which would include John. So it's not at all clear that Jesus was saying John could not live a long life and still be baptized into his death.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I tried to reply twice today, but my replies appear to have gone into moderation. I made a typo in paraphrasing Rom 6:3. That typo made a big difference.

Rex Ray said...

Old friend,

I think the ball is in your court, or are you like? “Those convinced against their will, are of the same opinion still.” :)